Writer researches climate change in Alaska

Salisbury Journal: Adam Weymouth Adam Weymouth

A WHITEPARISH writer has spent two months in Alaska researching climate change.

Adam Weymouth was funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to research the social effects that climate change is having on a region which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Over the two months Mr Weymouth has spoken to hundreds of Alaskans about their experiences of climate change and their thoughts about the future, from politicians and oil executives to people in Inuit villages where whales are still hunted by harpoon.

He said: “Where the effects are so pronounced I found little argument that change is happening, and fast. Villages are sinking into the ground as the permafrost melts, forest fires are appearing in areas that have no local word for ‘forest fire’. There are 31 indigenous communities imminently threatened as coastlines erode and storms grow in strength and eventually more than three-quarters of coastal villages may need to relocate.

“The argument remains as to what to do about it. With an economy largely based upon its oil and other resources, many are disinclined to think about alternatives. And as the sea ice recedes, areas are opening to drilling offshore which were never accessible before. As many pointed out to me, if so many villages need to move, then the money has to come from somewhere.”

Figures will soon be released for the decline in sea ice for summer 2013 and are likely to show further reductions. With the 19th UN Convention on Climate Change taking place in November, he arguments look set to continue for some time to come.

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